Supply Chain Roundtable

Global Longline Tuna

The Global Longline Tuna Supply Chain Roundtable (SR) is a forum for companies involved in the supply of longline-caught tuna, irrespective of final destination of finished product (fresh and frozen, or shelf-stable). SR participants actively support improvements in fishery management through fishery improvement projects (FIPs); adoption of voluntary measures for endangered, threatened, and protected species (ETP) bycatch mitigation; increased observer coverage; and advocacy to relevant tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and individual RFMO country delegates on tuna sustainability issues.

Sector Snapshot

19 Longline Tuna FIPs

29 Roundtable Participating Companies

12 Certified/Sustainable Fisheries

15 % Global Longline Tuna Production Improving

Join This Roundtable

To join this Supply Chain Roundtable or for more information, please contact Ian Rolmanis or call SFP at 1-808-726-2582. 

Q3 2021 Update

  • Review of participants – SFP has been conducting a review of the Global Longline Tuna SR participants to assess their ongoing suitability for the SR. After discussion and review of all participants, the number of SR participant companies was reduced from 41 companies to 28, to have a more engaged group.
  • New recruitment – Tri Marine, a leading supplier of tuna and tuna products on the global market, became the newest member of the Global Longline Tuna SR, increasing participation to 29 companies. Tri Marine will be a valuable addition to the SR and align well with current SR priorities.
  • We are pleased to announce that current Global Longline Tuna SR member Hamish Walker, COO at Seattle Fish Co., is now serving as the industry chair for this SR. The role of an industry chair is to support SFP in management of the SR and support the setting of strategic focus areas, while also supporting industry engagement on SR priorities.
  • In September SFP launched a WCPFC advocacy campaign with the NGO Tuna Forum, focused on the lack of progress on adopting a harvest strategy for tuna species in the WCPO. Failure to address this issue at the upcoming commission meetings will likely result in MSC certifications in the region being suspended in 2023 – a huge concern for the global tuna industry and retailers. The opportunity to sign on to this letter was presented to all SR members; support of these asks is currently a condition of participation in the SR. At the cut-off date for sign-on, we are pleased to report that 25 of our 29 SR members had signed on to this outreach (either individually or as part of industry groups that SR members work with). In total, the letter attracted 110 signatures, including many global retailers. A public link to the final letter can be found here.

Sector Background

Currently, about 50 percent of the tuna sector (combined) can be considered either sustainable or improving. 

Tuna is among the world’s most commercially valuable seafood, significantly important to both commercial and recreational fisheries that use a variety of gear types. The main commercially fished tuna species include yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, albacore, and bluefin tuna. Management of tuna is complex, as they are highly migratory and widely distributed throughout all oceans.

There are two distinct tuna markets within the sector, shelf-stable tuna, and fresh and frozen tuna. The shelf-stable market includes cooked tuna, which is predominantly sold canned. Major shelf-stable tuna suppliers include China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Spain, and Thailand, and the main retails markets are the EU and the US.

For fresh and frozen tuna, major producing countries include China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Japan is the dominant end market, accounting for more than 20 percent of globally traded fresh and frozen tuna. 

There are three key issue areas impacting the environmental sustainability of tuna fisheries: 

  • RFMO Management: Globally, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are failing on tuna management measures, putting tuna stocks at risk. This has been the case for many years. Significant failures on measures such as addressing yellowfin tuna rebuilding in the Indian Ocean and harvest control rules in the WCPFC are major stumbling blocks to a sustainable tuna industry. RFMOs are complex, and positive proposals are often blocked by disagreement among member delegates. RFMOs are also failing to require adequate observer coverage levels or to protect ETP species.
  • Observer Coverage: Observer information is key for developing strong scientific recommendations for tuna stocks and assessing these fisheries’ impacts on vulnerable bycatch species. Observer data also provides critical information on interactions with ETP species that may not be reported accurately in logbooks. Scientifically appropriate human observer rates in longline tuna fisheries and electronic monitoring of tuna fishing operations are currently being inhibited by the lack of RFMO mandate (at adequate levels) and enforcement, while voluntary adoption is also slow/low.
  • ETP Bycatch: Bycatch of endangered, threatened, and protected (ETP) species is always a risk in any fishing operation, and mitigating those risks should be a key priority for both fishers and the RFMOs managing the fishing areas. As with other areas of RFMO management, ETP bycatch has not been a key focus and, as a result, many vulnerable ETP species are at risk in tuna fisheries, particularly longline fisheries. Adoption of voluntary mitigation measures has also been slow, due to cost, lack of data on ETP interactions, education/training, and, in some cases, pushback from fishers.

Activity & Workplan

The following improvement needs and SR workplan activities for 2021 are designed to support improvements in environmental sustainability of global longline tuna fisheries. With support from SFP, SR members are asked to:

  1. Review current ETP bycatch risk – Review current sourcing for all longline tuna (including from FIPs and certified sources) for ETP bycatch risk and existing mitigation measures. This information will help SR members assess what voluntary measures can be implemented to reduce ETP impacts in fisheries they source from.
  2. Review current levels of observer coverage – Review current sourcing for all longline tuna (including from FIPs and certified sources) for existing observer coverage rates (both human and electronic). This information will help SR members assess if current coverage meets RFMO-mandated levels and also help SR members target sources where they need to push and support increased observer coverage.
  3. Support, monitor, and catalyze FIPs – Review FIP ratings for FIPs they currently source from and use these ratings to support actions within FIP workplans to ensure successful outcomes for tuna longline FIPs. SR members are also asked to support catalyzation of FIPs in fisheries they source from that are in need of improvement. 
  4. Support outreach to RFMOs and RFMO country delegates – Using resources developed by SFP and the Global NGO Tuna Forum, advocate directly with relevant RFMOs and individual RFMO country delegates for better management of tuna stocks within RFMO areas they source from.  

Join This Roundtable

To join this Supply Chain Roundtable or for more information, please contact Ian Rolmanis or call SFP at 1-808-726-2582.